Skip to main content

Pattern for Smartness

Movies Preview

Pattern for Smartness

Publication date 1948
Topics Sewing, Fashion
Digitizing sponsor Simplicity Pattern Co., Inc.
Home-sewed clothes as high fashion.


A young lady espouses the knowledge she gained in her home economics course (grooming, posture, diet) that have resulted in her having what her boyfriend refers to as "know how look". She explains to her boyfriend the advantages of sewing one's own clothing and how to use sewing patterns and other sewing tools. She models some "quick change magic" for him by putting on scarves and belts over the dress she has just made which inspires him to suggest that the girls put on a fashion show to earn money for new equipment for the basketball team.

Ken Smith notes: Johnny and Betty are two adult actors trying very hard to portray spic-and-span high school teens. Johnny is all agog at Betty's new dress and proclaims that she has "that 'know how' look." "It's what fellahs like a girl to have, and you have it! PLUS!" Betty confesses that she makes all of her clothes from Simplicity patterns ("But your clothes look so -- PROFESSIONAL!" Johnny protests) and that dressmaking is an embarrassingly simple thing. "I just let my pattern tell me what to do and it comes out all right!"
Next, an eight-foot-high Simplicity pattern packet slowly slides into the center of Betty's room (hey...what the hell is Johnny doing in Betty's room?). Girl models emerge from behind it and "Pattern"'s voice guides us step-by-step as Betty creates yet another feminine frock. "A good pattern is one of a girl's best friends," Pattern explains. "Your pattern catalog is a book of magic -- for it turns all who use it into creative artists!" "She's a regular boy scout with that knot!" adds the dumb guy narrator.
Betty's dialogue is sprinkled with praise for her home economics classes (Simplicity knew where this film would be shown) as the new dress is completed. Johnny's eyes bulge. "Why don't you and the other girls put on a fashion show to get money for new equipment for the basketball team?" he exclaims. "Wonderful, Johnny!" Betty replies. "The girls will be CRAZY about it!"
"Happy sewing to you all," chuckles the narrator.

"Your pattern catalogue is a book of magic. For it transforms all who use it into creative artists. Yes, just as the portrait artist uses the paints and the brushes to express his impression of a personality, so you can use fabrics and lines and colors to express your own personality."

Young couple dancing (slow-dancing).
Young ladies step out from behind a life size pattern package and show off their fashions.
A model holds up pieces of fabric under her chin to compare which colors complement her eyes, etc.
There is a shot of the young lady sewing at a sewing table with some seemingly gigantic pink roses.
Young lady using oval hand-held mirror to examine the back of her red dress in a full length mirror with gigantic pink roses.
Close-up from above of black rotary telephone being dialed.
Close-up of model illustrations being flipped through in a pattern book.
Nice outdoor shots of young ladies modeling clothing and girls sitting on the lawn and applauding. Close-up of girls in cat eye sunglasses applauding.



Reviewer: JayKay49 - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - December 4, 2011
Subject: Different Times
No wonder almost all men were straight back in those days. Girls were soooo cool and non-confrontational back then. So, what's to avoid?

Interesting is that there weren't any happy pippy flutes and clarinets going on in the background - more usual for films of this era and subject matter. But on the other hand one must agree that smooth string instruments DO offer an air of confidence "simplicity" and ease.
Reviewer: Ellay - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - February 27, 2010
Subject: I liked it
Aw c'mon guys, why do we have to take everything apart? I like sewing. I found the instructions insightfull and helpful in sewing darts,tacks, or making. I liked the hemming skirt gadget!
I could care less HOW Jonny got there.

To all feminists outhere, let me just say that it wouldn't hurt if sewing, knitting, cooking, dancing courses were re-introduced in schools today. Not to mention mandatory ettiquete with updated attitude to today's times.
There. I've said it. "Hang" me now :-))
Reviewer: Sara_no_h - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - December 3, 2008
Subject: oh geez
The way that big pattern board shuffles in is so awkward.
Reviewer: ERD. - favoritefavoritefavorite - October 27, 2008
Subject: Patterns for Smartness dated
I don't think the modern women has the time to make their own clothing anymore. The models were pretty, and the outfits cute, regardless that the fashions were from sixty years ago(but that's just my opinion.Unless you like making dresses, a big segment of this film didn't interest me.
Reviewer: left wing films - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - December 2, 2005
Subject: go trendy
this is a must in the Internet Archives
Reviewer: Marysz - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - March 21, 2004
Subject: Home Sewing for the "Know-How" Girl
ÂPattern for Smartness begins with teenage BettyÂs boyfriend Johnny walking into her house without asking. ÂHowÂd you get in here, anyway? asks Betty. ÂJust opened the door! answers Johnny. This exchange establishes BettyÂs lack of autonomy and sure enough, we soon see her showing him a dress pattern and asking, ÂWhich of these colors would you like for my new dress? This filmÂs attitude toward home sewing is different from the 1940 Singer Sewing ads in the Archive, whose titles tell a different story. The tough-minded women in ÂShe Caught on Quick and ÂThree Smart Girls wouldnÂt have let a guy get away with walking in on them without knocking (the Âmiracle man from Singer Sewing either rang the doorbell or came to the front gate). The Singer ads stressed the money-saving aspects of home sewing and didnÂt tout home sewing as being particularly creative or high fashion (except humorously). In fact, the ads made clear that the reason the women sewed was because the men (a husband in one, a father in the other) didnÂt have the money to give the women what they wanted. This film touts home sewing as creative, high fashion and as a way to be oneÂs Âexciting and attractive self. The film takes some strange turns. When Betty says, ÂI just let my pattern tell me what to do! a huge Simplicity pattern envelope comes on screen and the models on it come to life and carry on a strange dialog in rhyme with an unseen male narrator (JohnnyÂs not the only one who barged in). Now the film gets down to business. We take a tour of the Simplicity sewing headquarters and see how home sewing patterns are made. Then we watch step-by-step as Betty makes her dress. The dressmaking process is actually explained clearly and well. Betty makes herself a relatively complicated dress on what today looks like a primitive sewing machineÂas many women and girls did then. This film, like many Home Economics films, sends a mixed message. On one hand it pushes homemaking, but on the other, as in the scenes at the Simplicity Company, we see women workers outside of the home functioning competently and professionally. When BettyÂs dress is done, Johnny suggests the girls in Home Ec give a fashion show to benefit the boys basketball teamÂnaturally. We see BettyÂs fashion show and the film ends with two girls embracing each other (instead of boys), a Âfitting ending to this ambivalent film.
Reviewer: Spuzz - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - February 1, 2004
Subject: Female Pattern Blahness
This film, all about what you can do with simplicity patterns, is fine, but what really stands this one out is the beginning and the end. Betty and Johnny are 2 BAD acting kids wondering what color she should make her new dress. Betty you see, is a home ec student where she learned 'how to wear our clothes so they look really smart on us' among other things. When she decides to choose red for her dress, from nowhere appear models, ready to help Betty with her project. Did I tell you that this is all taking place in Betty's home? Anyways, the simple task of making a dress is shown. Bobby is so impressed by this result that he suggests, "Say, why not you and some other girls put on a fashion show to get money for new equipment for the basketball team??' (??) Since this is 1948, Betty thinks this is a swell idea. Soon, she's made 112 bucks for the team (none for her!) and everyone applauds! Hurray for female progress! Highly reccomended!
Reviewer: Steve Nordby - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - November 26, 2003
Subject: Fashion sense
The internal dialog of Johnny's girl, in her fashionable clothing, makeup, jewlery... as she disrespects the plain girl walking by on the sidewalk in the first 2 minutes of this film is worth the download and pegs my rating at five stars! The superficial attitude and missing sense of self worth is like nothing I've seen, but is clearly an attempt by the company whose advertisment this is to turn girls into self-doubting, image oriented, subhuman consumers of fashion products.

Turns into a fairly ordinary advertising for fabric patterns after that. The color is pretty good (despite some bouncing auto color balance circuits in the transfer from film).
SIMILAR ITEMS (based on metadata)
Prelinger Archives
by Audio Productions, Inc.
eye 29,160
favorite 60
comment 7
favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite ( 7 reviews )
Prelinger Archives
by Reed (Roland) Productions
eye 27,280
favorite 31
comment 8
favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite ( 8 reviews )
Office of Information publications (United States. Dept. of Agriculture)
by United States. Extension Service
eye 86
favorite 0
comment 0
Rogue Valley Community Television (RVTV)
by David Bruce
eye 3,949
favorite 0
comment 0
Daisy Books for the Print Disabled
by Mary Jo Hiney
eye 7
favorite 0
comment 0
Rogue Valley Community Television (RVTV)
by David Bruce
eye 3,874
favorite 0
comment 0
Daisy Books for the Print Disabled
by Clarke, Arthur C. (Authur Charles), 1917-2008; Holbrook, Stewart Hall, 1893-1964; Catton, Bruce, 1899-1978; Volck, Adalbert John, 1828-1912
eye 39
favorite 0
comment 0
Daisy Books for the Print Disabled
by Jennie Atwood
eye 9
favorite 1
comment 0
Prelinger Archives
by Unknown
eye 17,167
favorite 33
comment 6
favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite ( 6 reviews )